Q&A: Star Wars Size Matters and Crowdfunding Continues

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, January 9, 2022

1. Given the failure of HasLab's Rancor, how could they have better handled it so they can make better choices in the future?

Instead of throwing out an option and saying, "This is your next HasLab. Buy it or don't," wouldn't it have been better if Hasbro had said: "Here are four possible options for the next HasLab, gathered from collector forums and emails sent to us. Would you want: a Black Series Rancor, a Black Series modular Creature Cantina, a Sandcrawler, or a Death Star playset?

Vote your choice over the next 30 days, and the winner will be the next HasLab."


Hey, it's our last Rancor question! No more HasLab questions or specifically Rancor HasLab questions. Thanks everybody.

Your question is pretty much the best answer of why they shouldn't take the vote idea. No matter what, they're going to upset even more people. If it's not original trilogy - and it very well may not be - people will be angry. If it's 6" and not 3 3/4", people will be angry. By introducing choices in the mix, you're just courting months if not years of angry fans, threatened boycotts, and other ridiculousness.

Fans will spend a long time second-guessing the winner of the poll, thinking the other ideas are better. Sort of like what's happening now - the armchair-quarterbacking of the Rancor campaign is sort of exhausting to wade through. But back to your idea.

One of a couple of things could happen. If Hasbro just presented fans with an idea to vote on - a sketch, maybe not a fully-realized prototype - it would be 6-12 months more to prototype and approve the item before putting up a HasLab Campaign, which itself would take another 12-18 months (or more) to be delivered if it's even funded in the first place. And then there's going to be bickering about the other 3 choices.

If Hasbro were to pre-prototype the choices, that would mean a fourfold increase in prototyping costs for the same potential return. That's just not good business either.

Also every time Hasbro allows fans to vote on something, there either are (or are perceived to be) voting irregularities. Remember when the Duro somehow beat Amanaman at the last minute? That was the first one. When we got Jaina Solo, that was a result of a known ballot box-stuffing campaign by a fan group who was made Lucasfilm wiped the old Expanded Universe from the history books. (It was meant to be spiteful, but she sold great, so... everybody won?)

The Rancor was an item that a lot of fans rolled their eyes over. "Who asked for this?" I heard a lot. "This is too expensive!" came up a lot. "I don't even want 6-inch stuff!" others cried out. Now imagine if Hasbro had a bunch of options - spanning scales, spanning multiple trilogies, or even games and books. You're going to have a lot of people refuse to support the HasLab because their thing didn't get picked - possibly out of spite, sort of like we saw the Rancor backers plummet. I love democracy but I don't think it's ideal for this kind of thing. This is more of an invisible hand of the market kind of thing - if it's good, it'll work. If it's bad, try again later.

The best thing Hasbro can do? Just try again in 2022. (If you're asking me, I'd say do something that appeals to 3 3/4-inch sensibilities either form a current on-the-air-right-now thing, or original trilogy, but I'm biased. Razor Crest and Sail Barge are both perfect examples.) Ultimately we're giving them millions of dollars, interest-free, to manufacture a product with virtually no chance of losing profits. It's up to them to bait the hook, and next time I assume it may be more compelling of an offer.

When I was speculating on this campaign before the Rancor leaked, I was really hoping the 2021 item would've been a "Throne Room" Boba Fett set. Maybe with Bib Toomuchtuna (apologies) and his Kenner staff, a removable throne so you can put Jabba on it too, any other guards or accessories are welcome. It may be too small to really work as a HasLab item, but 2-3 figures, a throne, removable accessories, and so forth. This is the kind of item that may inspire fans to want to add a Rancor to it, whereas the Rancor just sort of seemed like a thing you would add to an existing 6-inch Jabba Palace collection which, at this time, is less than a wave's worth of figures.



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2. How come the 3.75 Book of Boba Fett (Tatooine) looks sooooo much better than the 6 inch throne version? Is that what we are paying the extra for? Certainly 2 Stormtrooper helmets and a big empty box aren’t worth the markup. That box is rad though.


I think the 3 3/4-inch figure looks great, but both are prototypes and we won't know for sure if any deco will get dropped by release (and for the asking prices on both, it better not) or other changes get made. I assume we're seeing some experimentation on what fans want, and what they're willing to pay, more than the needs of the market. Walmart has similarly packaged deluxe Vintage exclusive figures for about $20, with just as much (or more) in the box. $20 for Boba Fett would be a lot, but $27 is beyond sensible justification. But will we buy it? History says yes.

The vintage Boba Fett figure has a retail of about $27 (as opposed to $14 for a normal figure) and the Black Series figure costs $32 (as opposed to $23.) I don't like using words like "ripoff" but if this weren't a Hasbro Star Wars line I doubt any of us would waste time justifying the numbers - that's a massive price increase. The big question is if it'll sell well at that price (and if Hasbro can't make enough fast enough, as has been the case for Mandalorians of all sorts lately, it will sell very well.)

I've been in various parts of this business for a long time, and I've heard people (whom I do not presently work for or with) say "if the toy sells out within a day, you're not charging enough for it" on a few occasions. Given the amount of product hoarding/flipping/scalping we still see, that's probably true - just look at Amazon. If an item sells well, someone is happy to sell you one at a premium mark-up, and they still sell at a mark-up. I don't know if Hasbro saw this as an opportunity to offer more expensive - and potentially plussed-up - figures and just make the money themselves, or what. If the market can support better, more expensive figures with more gear that's arguably exciting if done correctly, but I'd much rather have a $10 or $11 retro Kenner figure - regardless of price. But that's me.





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Be sure you send in your questions for next time. The mailbag is out of on-topic questions, so if you got some, send some in.

It's a new year! And new movies are coming - some were already delayed, some will be delayed and we just don't know it yet. The investment scheme that is major motion pictures demands a good return, but given that few movies crack $100 million, I would wager a lot of production companies will want to wait until more than just Marvel movies can bring home the bacon.

John Wick 4, Transformers 7 and Indiana Jones 5 were all pushed to 2023, and you can bet the toys were as well.

For Q1 2022, we have a new Scream, Sony's Morbius (the Spider-Man vampire movie), Uncharted (based on the video game and Sony has high hopes for this being a big franchise), The Batman, and Pixar's Turning Red.

Q2, it's Sonic the Hedgehog 2, another Fantastic Beasts, Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, DC League of Super-Pets (with Marc Maron), Top Gun: Maverick (delayed many times), The Bob's Burgers Movie, Jurassic World: Dominion, and Pixar's Lightyear (the fake real movie on which Buzz Lightyear of Toy Story was based.) A lot of these were postponed a few times over the last couple of years, and as far as I know toys are still planned for a few of them. But delays can happen at the last minute.

Kicking off July and Q3, it's Minions: The Rise of Gru, Thor: Love and Thunder, Black Adam, Mission: Impossible 7, and the Shrekiverse Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.

Q4 looks to be huge with Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Avatar 2, Halloween Ends, The Flash, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, and that's plenty. Avatar #1 was 2009, meaning its sequel came 13 years later - that's a long time, but Return of the Jedi came out 16 years before The Phantom Menace, which is forever.

So far it seems the appetite for delays has gone, but it's all about box office receipts and investors. For all we know we might see a delay if anyone feels the ticket sales won't be there... and for franchise entertainments, it's probably going to be there. At least we got The Book of Boba Fett and I for one liked the second episode a lot more. And last week's Star Trek Prodigy was Fan Service Central. And Bob Saget died. And Toy Fair New York 2022 is still on, but a lot of companies are bowing out. It's been a rollercoaster of a week.

--Adam Pawlus

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